Deconstructing the “Vote for Trump” Arguments of the Christian Right

James Dobson may be a good preacher, but he’s a lousy human being for “leading” his flock astray in the name of what he believes to be a higher calling.

In case you missed it, Dobson has sent a lengthy letter to his followers to help justify them voting for Donald Trump in November, despite the relentless bombardment of the foul wind that has soured even the air we breathe every day of his “administration.” (Ed Note: you can find a link to the actual letter within the reference I’ve provided, but I will not link to it directly myself.)

There’s his total botching of the virus, his secret dealings with the Russians, his self-centeredness at the cost of hurting others, his lies about immigration, his tax boon to the 1%, the spectacular increase in the national debt, his disdain for people whose skin color isn’t white, his attacks on the mainstream press, his violation(s) of the Emoluments Clause of our Constitution, his unstable mental state, the fact (yes, fact) that he’s intellectually challenged, and most of all, that he’s a loser and always has been, a snake-oil salesman from the Wayback Machine.

And yet, here is Dobson — one of the Christian Right’s most beloved leaders — telling us that none of it matters, that he needs our votes, so that Dobson and those of his ilk can fully overthrow the U.S. Government and take control of the United States on behalf of Jesus. Don’t believe me? Read Anne Nelson’s powerful book, Shadow Network: Media, Money, and the Secret Hub of the Radical Right and argue with her documentation of this Christian Conspiracy.

I’ve got to be honest here. This is the greatest threat to the wellbeing of the U.S. since the Civil War. Here’s just one section of Dobson’s rhetoric:

Disengaged people won’t lift a finger to preserve this great land. They won’t take even a few minutes to go to their polling places to vote. There are also thousands of pastors who won’t allow voting registration tables in the lobbies of their churches. Don’t they know or care that America is on the ropes? Hordes of angry anarchists are salivating over the next election, hoping to push America over a cliff. If they succeed, as Newt Gingrich said, Western civilization will never recover. Is there anyone left who believes some things are worth dying for?

This kind of language is highly manipulative, for it begins with a false witness, that America is on the ropes with “hordes of angry anarchists” salivating over the next election. Seriously?

People smarter than him and with more money than him are taking advantage of this entire shadow government that the Christian Right has been plotting and building. These Silk Stockings really don’t give a ripple chip about what’s contained in Dobson’s apologetic; they just need their votes. I promise you, this will not end well for those who believe as Dobson does.

So let’s examine the “seven critical issues” that Dobson uses as justification for voting, once again, to keep a damaging reprobate in office.

The Next Generation — This is number one, because it fits his narrative. Moreover, it tickles the ears of his older followers, and he knows that they care deeply about their progeny and their legacy. What better way to hook people than to talk about their children and grandchildren in light of that which hasn’t happened yet. James Dobson may think himself a prophet, but lies like this are certainly NOT prophecy.

“Make no mistake, the left and secular culture are manipulating the minds of your sons and daughters every day of the year.”

With respect, Dr. Dobson, isn’t that precisely what YOU do? You watch a Super Bowl halftime show starring Jennifer Lopez and “just know” that it’s harming those poor, impressionable kids who were really there just to watch a football game. In whose reality is this true? Only yours, sir, and when you work to make that vision real, you remove any opportunity for adults to talk with their children, which appears to be something you’d rather do for them.

The Sanctity of Human Life — Here, Dr. Dobson trudges out the tried and true. Using the worst possible statistic — that more than 60 million “babies” have been murdered since Roe v. Wade in 1973 — Dobson et al continue with the hypocrisy of describing themselves as “Pro-Life”.

“This is the most tragic holocaust in the history of the world! Some states have even passed laws allowing wounded and suffering infants to lie alone on porcelain trays after somehow surviving unsuccessful abortions. They will die without the comfort of their mothers’ breasts. If that doesn’t touch your heart, you are without compassion. I hope you will not cast a single vote for any politician who supports such wickedness.”

I’m so tired of this worn out piece of propaganda, mostly because it’s been used to vilify a great number of good people who didn’t and don’t deserve it. Moreover, to use this narrative to hook followers by calling pro-choice people “pro-abortion” is all the evidence I need as a human being to question the motives here. I mean, Dr. Dobson, God doesn’t need you to stretch the truth (there’s that darned 9th Commandment again) in order to advance your political agenda. This is a case where the evidence doesn’t justify the accusations, because the abortion rate has been shrinking to the point where it’s BELOW the rate when Roe v. Wade was originally passed. Dobson and his cronies are stuck in the 1980s, when their quest for political power first moved into high gear.

Marriage and Family — The divorce rate among Americans is dropping as younger people are deciding to wait for better financial security. You’d think this would be great news for people like Dobson, but it’s actually a threat. Remember the Shirky Principle, that institutions need to protect the problem for which they are the solution. And, this means despite the evidence. Dobson will never view marriage and divorce statistics through any lens other than the one he borrowed from Chicken Little.

“…listen carefully: powerful and highly funded forces, including LGBTQ and other leftist entities, are determined to destroy the family as an institution. It is already on its knees, and its future is grim. Before you vote, find out what position the candidates have taken on this issue. Then vote accordingly.”

Fear is always behind so-called Christian appeals for money. Oops. Sorry. I forget to tell you that this letter is also about fundraising.

Religious LibertyOMG, this is THE most disturbing issue of all, because it’s a sneaky bit of slight of hand. At its core, this argument is about raising the influence of James Dobson and the rest of his kind. What good is a religious approach to governing, if you don’t have the legal means necessary to accomplish it? Hence, of all the issues that Dobson touts, this one is THE most self-serving. What these people want is license to do as they please, regardless of the effect on anybody else. To even use the word Liberty in this euphemism is claptrap of the highest magnitude.

“The courts have done the greatest damage, but now an entire sub-culture is trying to bring down the Christian faith. Whether it has invaded your private world or not, it is at your front door…
…Don’t let the government close the doors of your church or tell you when you can sing praises to the Lord Almighty.”

Seriously, this man is deluded, but his prose is highly manipulative, like all the other propagandists who came before him. Religious Liberty is a fallacious “issue” because it’s really not an issue; it’s what these people need in order to pull off their overthrow of the U.S. Government.

Capitalism v. Socialism — Yeah right. How about we tag this euphemism for what it is: an appeal to greed and avarice versus loving your neighbor as yourself. Haven’t we learned by now that capitalism requires a governor, that it cannot be left to the extreme money-makers, because they will always default to profit? Even their philanthropy needs to be examined, because generosity at that level is more an annoyance and a tax write-off than it is genuine concern. Of course, there are exceptions, but those shouldn’t force us into the manipulation of people like Dr. James Dobson. Don’t listen to these convenient phrases, because they have no basis in truth but are a regular staple of extreme conservatism. And what comes after socialism? The great boogieman in the sky Communism. You’ll hear that this year.

“It is difficult to believe that for the first time in American history, our nation appears to be thinking about trading our democratic way of life for the tyranny of socialism. I can hardly catch my breath.”

Sorry, Doc, but you’re going to need more than your own words to prove this, because it’s simply untrue. It is, however, a convenient painting for the brushstrokes that he’s providing. The extreme religious right doesn’t have the chops to back up this piece of propaganda, but it matches so well with Republican Party tactics that it doesn’t matter to them, and especially to James Dobson.

Three other things. One, notice he uses the cover-your-ass words “appears to be.” Dead giveaway. Two, the 1% comprise a major chunk of Dobson’s operating revenue. Three, it’s simply evil to take study results and provide your own interpretation, as Dobson does with this sentence: “Is it true that up to 40 percent of millennials and others are prepared to surrender their liberties in exchange for the absolute authority of the state?” Sorry, folks, this guy’s own words convict him. Too slick. Too sleazy.

The Judicial System — Here, Dr. Dobson gets to the heart of the whole matter, his absolute justification for voting for four more years of the Trump holocaust. The extreme righties demand a Supreme Court that does their bidding, so they’ve created this straw man to force their interpretations of how our judicial system works onto the public and hopefully force their way into our business.

“But again, and again, they have overstepped their authority and brought us atrocities such as abortion on demand, same-sex marriage, and the so-called “separation of church and state,” which doesn’t appear in the Constitution.”

Finally, I know these people. They will never stop at a conservative majority, because they want to force their beliefs and practices on everybody else. Abortion, after all, isn’t really about killing babies; it has always been and will remain a form of birth control to them. And, if you think about it seriously, you’ll realize it’s really all about sex. They have a very rigid formula for sex and birth control, so don’t be fooled. This is why they so steadfastly argue for judges who “don’t make law,” whether it’s necessary or not. All they want is THEIR way.

The Nation of Israel - I’m glad Dobson saved this one for last, because it’s personal for me. The United States GIVES Israel $1,000,000 every single day, holidays and weekends included, without any strings attached, only that it be used for defense. Against whom? They are already THE malicious bully in the Middle East, killing grown ups and children with impunity in their quest to claim all the land from the Jordan River to the sea. The Israelis are masters at propaganda, and American ears hear only that.

“Scripture tells that those who bless Israel will be blessed (Genesis 12:3). Our prayer is that the next Chief Executive Officer of the U.S. will continue to promote and cultivate a vibrant bond of friendship with the nation of Israel, which is our only ally in the Middle East. Anti-Semitism and all forms of racial discrimination are inherently evil, and we condemn them categorically. We are a nation that is dedicated to ‘freedom and justice for all’ ”.

Into this apartheid political mess in the Middle East come the Christians with their love of Holy Land Tours and admonitions from their leaders that Israel can basically do no wrong, because GOD is with them permanently and in perpetuity. Really? My son-in-law was among the Palestinian people forced to relocate to Jordan by the Israelis in 1967. His views are so much more believable than the stuff that flows in church about Zionist Israel. And, of course, they wield the antisemitism label without challenge, so as to silence their critics. A million dollars a day. Imagine what we could do at home with that money. And, then there’s this “only ally” assertion. If the political situation was different, do you honestly think the Arabs wouldn’t do business with us?

There’s also the regular criticism of Islam as an “enemy” of America. We should instead be asking, “Why are these people so angry?” That presupposes, of course, that we can get past the propaganda of the oil industry to actually consider it.

All of these “faithful” men and women are overcome with a thirst for power under the sun, and if I can reference Ecclesiastes, that is only vanity. It’s a temporal power, but one these people believe they are owed by their dedication to what feels to them like a righteous calling.

It’s all bullshit! And, here’s my summary. Vote for the candidate you think deserves your vote, hopefully for one that will relieve us of this unrelenting nightmare. There’s serious blood on your hands if you don’t.

Editor’s note: I got all the way through this without once mentioning Fox News. Aren’t you proud of me?

A New World Order is at Hand

“Some men see things as they are, and ask why. I dream of things that never were, and ask why not.” Robert Kennedy

DISCLAIMER:
Normally, I have difficulty with those writers who feel it necessary to sell readers on their qualifications before presenting their argument. The strength of that argument ought to be able to stand on its own, but this pandemic is changing all the rules and will continue to do so. Therefore, I feel it’s necessary to provide a little personal background before proceeding. Hence, this disclaimer.

On Wednesday, February 20, 2020, the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed at 29,348.03. Earlier that morning, I posted this on Twitter:

I’m no prophet, but I have a pretty good track record of listening and then reporting. I could literally feel the breaking and crumbling, along with all the pain associated with it. I’m like many other sensitive souls who value their connection to the cosmos above the rewards of this life. We are scattered throughout the arts community, where the concept of muses is taken pretty seriously.

Bill Monroe, the father of bluegrass music and a prolific song writer, once told me, “I never wrote anything. I just heard them first.” This statement of humility says much about the creative process and Mr. Monroe’s steadfast commitment to it. By his own admission, Bill Monroe was a better listener than a writer.

I was a good assignment editor in my TV news career, because I could manage to get myself ahead of my competitors simply by paying attention. In my career as a consultant, I helped — along with many others — in understanding and defining disruptions and innovations associated with the internet and the news community.

My work on defining the pieces of a cultural swing that I call “postmodernism” is used to teach others around the world. My essays can be found in university syllabi in many places, which is a pretty high honor for a guy who never went to college. I taught media ethics for the postmodern era for several semesters as an adjunct professor at the University of North Texas.

Despite all that, I still tremble when I put my ear to the wind, because most people judge this as foolishness, and I know that repeating it is an invitation to rejection, which is something I really don’t handle very well. Nevertheless, in uncertain times, I’m comforted, because I believe that there’s a bigger picture regarding life than most people can see. Caveat emptor, however, as you read on.

WHAT’S AHEAD
So, with that lengthy disclaimer, let’s put our long-term glasses on and try to reasonably discuss life after the quarantine, when the threat is over and leaders get back to work. Nobody really knows what’s ahead, but that should never stop us from thinking about it anyway. As with every crisis of human life, there will be opportunity and there will be loss. As a result, it’ll doubtless be a season of innovation as we search for a new normal. This is a good thing, because the West prior to the virus wasn’t exactly headed down a sustainable path.

The normal will be new, because this event can’t help but reveal inefficiencies, sloppy thinking, and errors within the old culture, and we will move to correct each one of them. For example, Macy’s announced that it was closing all of its stores for the duration of our crisis. Does anybody really think all of those stores will reopen after this? Not a chance. Macy’s wasn’t in the greatest shape before, so we shouldn’t expect them to suddenly find piles of extra cash to throw at an archaic business model. Reinvention will be the biggest challenge ahead for the business community.

We are all together in this vast lifeboat, and this is what may produce the biggest changes, a more utopian and less dystopian global culture. We know for a fact now that the 1% care only about themselves. We’ve also learned to recognize the voice of propaganda and that there’s no such thing as a stupid question anymore. We know for a fact that we are the only ones who truly care about ourselves, and we must not underestimate the power of this enormous shared survival experience and our frightful journey in our lonely lifeboats.

There will be an immediate rush to restore the status quo, but this will run into a wall of those who survived in spite of the rug being pulled out from under them earlier. Do we really think people will welcome back the same set of fundamentals that put us in this situation in the first place? They, the thinking will go, drove us into this, and we’ll not be so foolish again. Mark these words, for there’s no way we’ll ever again be satisfied with that particular status quo. We’re going to demand something different. Already, thinkers such as Henry Kissinger, who helped create our world order, is urging nations to protect that order above all (The Coronavirus Pandemic Will Forever Alter the World Order). It’s a fool’s errand.

Stores like Macy’s, for example, are going to lose their best people during or after this layoff. You think those folks will happily return? That $1,200 is going to seem like a very small “bonus” for having their lives completely turned upside down. We’ve never had so many people out of work, and at a time when American businesses have been artificially propped up by corporate welfare from this White House.

Moreover, the cultural shifts we’ll face have already been underway for a great many years, and we’re ripe for something different. Will it be opportunity for you or loss?

Which religions will fade and which will be exalted? Many think the 21st Century will be the epoch of Islam, because other governing concepts have all failed. Democracy doesn’t work absent internal governors, because otherwise corruption is inevitable. Our culture is based on oaths and promises, which mean very little anymore, and this needs to change. Religion offers such guidance, but which religion? Everything is on the chopping block.

Then there’s the great divide, an awful season of extreme fringes and their takeover of our political system. The truth is that most of us aren’t fringe, and we’re really sick of being forced into either extreme political box. I’ve bent over backwards to inform everybody that tolerance assumes the power to not tolerate. Otherwise, it’s not tolerance; it’s a bayonet at our backs. No American truly pissed about what’s happened to us — since Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell assumed control of the Republican Party — will ever wish to go back. The Democrats have been delivering their “progressive” agenda for many years. Neither speaks for the huge middle that represents the vast majority of us, and until this is articulated and shared, uncertainty will remain.

Our attitudes about ourselves and each other will be the most underreported aspect of what lies ahead, for this isn’t the stuff of mainstream thinking. We will have survived a shared disaster! Think about that for a minute. While no one can say for sure what this means today, it certainly suggests a culture more interested in unity than before.

It may sound foolish, but the great middle needs to unite as a lobbying organization with the power to swing elections. Our choices would force people back to our turf, where we have the muscle to force political unity. Elected officials will have no choice but to respond. Our platform would begin with our willingness to vote for whomever we think we need at the time, regardless of ideological affiliation. We’ve no use for the political system that has a bayonet at our backs forcing us into choosing extremes. Black and white are forced upon us without the opportunity to investigate shades of grey.

Despite the cynicism that I realize is present here, my glass is always half-full in looking downstream. We see through a glass darkly anyway — especially when that glass is pointed downstream — but fear is a rotting and corrupting influence that extremists find easy to manipulate for their extreme purposes. Those who use fear for political gain will be seen as transparently self-centered. I mean, what are “they” going to do to us? Take away our jobs? Put us in quarantine?

Christianity will win the battle with self-centeredness in its midst, and the heresy of prosperity will be formally dismissed as such. The money changers will, once again, be thrown out of the temple. Those who prosper have their reward, and the expectation that their narrative is the ultimate winner will be unceremoniously tossed into the dust pile of history.

It’s even possible that eyes closed shut for years will be opened. Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s appointment, for example, was based on his favorable views of business and not because he’s pro-life. The right response to this is going to have to come from the church, even those caught up in the evil we’ve experienced these last four years. Good people — yes, good — have given themselves over to reprobates whose life goals involve profit, not the unborn. The church must fix this, for we/they are being deceived.

There will remain for many years a strong skepticism about what got us into this, which will lead to a strong call for reinventing a great many things. We may see the most significant shift in our trust, and the technology exists today to create a new political narrative that includes everyday people not driven by ideology. Gone is any idea that any individual group will act in the best interests of others. We now know for certain after four years of Trump that business cares first and foremost about profit, even greed. There can be no argument here, not anymore.

The emphasis continues to shift from the seller to the buyer, because the ability to fool people with illegitimate claims has been seriously weakened. Pay attention to the work of Doc Searls. He’s leading the thinking about buyer-generated commerce, which is quite the opposite of the relentless bombardment of marketing that the status quo has perfected in the modern era.

We will increasingly move in the direction of a more hip population, as the Evolving User Paradigm (the longer users use the Web, the greater the acceleration of the disruptions they create) continues its advance. The gap between intelligence and foolishness will be increasingly noticeable, and ventures targeting early bullshit detection will create a new community of those who want distance between themselves and status quo marketing. If I had any money, this is where I’d put it.

Emphasis on money will be impacted as other forms of currency begin to take shape. Barter is a currency. Love is a currency. Ego is a currency. Respect is a currency. Choices are a currency. Influence is a currency. We use these often, but they will eventually become creatively commodified. It will be very difficult to horde these forms of currency.

Leaders are wanted and needed. Managers, not so much.

Thumbs up for Reddit and other discussion formats.

Every home will be connected — and armed.

Pay attention to the arts and artists who flourish, because their efforts will resonate the new.

It’s going to be harder and harder to make war based primarily on business interests.

When J.D. Lasica coined the phrase “Personal Media Revolution” over 20 years ago, none of us could’ve even imagined how profound this “revolution” would be. We are now our own media companies. We make movies. We make TV. We make radio. Links are still the currency of the Web, and smart people like Dave Winer keep exposing us to new methods of linking that aren’t controlled by a single platform. We may have bumps and bruises along the way, but the internal drive to connect that’s within each of us — even introverts — has unlimited capability to drive us together despite — and maybe because of — the inevitable greed that arises from the likes of Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and other platforms.

If information is power, the Evolving User Paradigm will keep empowering the masses, and that won’t work well with the modernist idea of top-down command and control. And the modernist managers will be way too busy expressing fear of chaos as the status quo crumbles to actually notice what’s taking place around them.

Media companies will continue to collapse due to debt and ever-shrinking audiences. One can hope that these people will discover how they gave up way too early on the web, because its entire marketing position (top-down) couldn’t stand up to the precision offered by the geeks online. The only logical reason that, for example, the New York Times couldn’t have become Google in the online advertising game is their insistence that they were in the content business. They aren’t and never were. Their business is making money by placing ads adjacent to content. Targeting individual browsers? That came from minds that didn’t give a crap about content. Whose fault is that? Consider the overwhelming popularity of ad blockers, and you can more easily understand where their bread is buttered. There’s nothing quite like following a link only to be told you must disable your ad blocker or whitelist the site before being shown what’s at the end of the link. This is a form of unintended suicide.

New growth centers for people will be built around residents caring for each other. The new currency of choices will be based on human development, not jobs, because people can work online and live wherever. Migration patterns will be interesting to study in the years ahead.

Sociologists will examine the issue of white flight through the lens of business profit, just as was the advancement of women a century ago. White flight is a problem that’s far bigger than anyone chooses to state. White Evangelical Christians have fled along with those who wanted to distance themselves from potential conflicts, mostly racial. This is selfishness gone-to-seed in the name of personal protection. It’s one thing to wish to protect my family, but when that’s turned into any form of group think, it ceases to be a personal choice, because it is such an easy way of life to manipulate from the outside.

Political correctness will be seen rightly as a luxury that we cannot afford. No longer will we tolerate special interests who use modernist tools to convince us of their rights at the expense of our own. Blanket acceptance or toleration of others isn’t an absolute moral perspective that is above all investigation. Again, toleration is based on the assumption that we can just as easily choose not to tolerate. Not all lifestyles, whether chosen or natural, can be considered equal. It just doesn’t work that way, because we need the freedom to draw lines for ourselves. And tolerance doesn’t have to include completely embracing every lifestyle.

Mental health is going to be a thriving medical concern, due in large part to the guilt and shame that we’ll all feel at some point during our isolation. It’s not good for man to be alone, and this Biblical reference doesn’t refer to gender.

Corporate greed has been internally voted down for most of us. It’s so transparent these days that it’s going to be increasingly difficult to pull it off without repercussions. Corporations will closely examine remote work to administer cost savings. We may even see an end to hourly pay, for it’s a holdover from the Industrial Age and doesn’t make sense anymore. It’s likely that everybody will be put on a predictable salary with perks assigned to make it life easier for employees, such as daycare, healthcare, food and supplies, tax deductions, and even shelter.

New special interests will develop and grow, based on our different views of what’s important. These will likely begin as social movements before becoming institutionalized.

Finally, I want to make it very clear that whatever happens, Life will be on our side. In order to function as such, however, we’re going to have to cut away any supposition that this is evil work foisted upon us by the devil. The coronavirus is God’s virus, because theology teaches us that the fallen angel has no power other than what God allows. Is this an act of God in trying to defend our planet? It’s a pressing matter that we must ALL examine with our own hearts, because outside sources are caught in a zero-sum game about planetary resources.

Repentance is the act we all must be willing to make. Sticking with it will be our universal challenge.

Mo Mo Gotta Go Go, Coronavirus Edition

Rep. Mo Brooks with his Master

Oh, Mo. Sigh.

On March 5th, you gave us bullet points on the congressional briefing regarding the virus. You emphasized positives for the USA. Then, on March 9th, you gained publicity for yourself by urging Congress against recessing. These are YOUR words:

Yes, COVID-19 is highly contagious. But, unless you are old or have immune deficiency, the threat is VERY low.

Congress must stand strong as America’s example, not cut & run like snowflakes!

Snowflakes, BTW, is a pejorative term used to describe Democrats. It’s one of those words you’ve been taught to insert wherever you can, but it’s so inappropriate here.

Then on March 10th, you did a radio interview saying that the media was “overreacting” and that the virus was not as serious as some are making it out to be. You were glib and sarcastic in mocking the panic (your word). You chuckled as you told your radio hosts they needed to “get with the panic” and not be gathered together in a radio studio. Laugh? I thought I’d never start.

Here are more quotes from you during that interview. I should add that Matt Murphy and Andrea Lindenberg did a great job in asking the right questions. You, however, were a major FAIL! Remember, this was March 10, 2020.

“It is not novel. It is not new. And yet the public is being beaten into a panic mode by the mainstream news media. You just talked about four thousand people dead. We’ve had hundreds of thousands of people during the same period die from the flu. Hundreds of thousands worldwide. Why are we panicking over four thousand versus hundreds of thousands that we see on a regular basis every year?…

Question: Why is government now creating commissions and getting involved?
“To try to address the panic that the mainstream news media and the Democrats are drumming up. That’s not to say it isn’t serious. It’s not to say you shouldn’t be taking precautions, but they’re the same kinds of precautions you should take every flu season…

“This thing is being blown all out of perspective by the mainstream news media, and it’s causing damage to our economy and damage to our lives as a result…

“If you’re under age 60 and your immune system is functioning as it normally does, you really are not at risk any more than if you’d caught a cold or the flu…

“There is risk, but at the same time, you have to keep the risk into perspective. And the best perspective I can put it into is compare it to the normal flu and what happens every year with that flu…

“The rest of us need to go on with our daily lives and try not to interact with those who are in one of those high risk categories…

The Democrats and their allies in the mainstream news media are trying to create a panic. They are trying to tank the American economy because their hatred of Donald Trump is so great. They’re willing to risk American lives and risk the American economy in order to defeat Donald Trump in November 2020, and that’s no different from what the Democrats do to border security. We know that Americans are going to be killed as a result of the lack of border security, but that doesn’t stop the Democrats from continuing with an open borders policy that’s going to result in 2,000 dead Americans each year, people who have died at the hands of illegal aliens, and that’s the average…

So they’re willing to, for political gain, to do what they do at the southern border. They’re also willing to, for political gain, do great damage to our economy, because that has been one of Donald Trump’s biggest strengths as President of the United States.”

Honestly, Mr. Brooks, you do not represent me or any of my friends with this kind of thinking and behaving. You have aligned yourself tightly with Donald Trump, and as he goes, you will go. We need somebody with the mettle of a Doug Jones to represent North Alabama in the House, and, as I said the last time, I’ll do whatever I can to make that happen.

Mo Mo Gotta Go Go.

The Five Reasons White Evangelicals Will Vote for Trump in 2020

In the recovery community, we are often admonished to “play out the tape,” which means to consider where a decision will lead BEFORE making said decision. This is often life-altering wisdom for people who tend to simply react without thinking. Given the conservative wins in the U.K. elections, any thinking that Americans are just dying to vote Trump out is poppycock, and the GOP has done an outstanding job of painting the Dems into a fallacious socialist corner.

So, playing out the tape is an important exercise as we look ahead to November of 2020. White Evangelical Christians are likely to vote once again for Mr. Trump, because they simply cannot ignore five issues that matter above all. These, they are taught, are framed by what they believe to be absolute truths supported by faith in the saving power of Jesus Christ. Their view, quite frankly, is that they live safe from the ravages of sin within the culture, and they want everybody else to find what they’ve known in their personal histories.

It’s not the economy, although that issue may be huge to others. White Evangelicals profess that God is their provider and that His provision is their back-up plan in the event anything ever goes “wrong” under the sun. They don’t worry so much about shit happening or bad luck or bad timing or bad planning as they do striving to stay on the path of wholeness and prosperity.

It’s not global warming, because these people trust that God has it under control and that the evidence for global warming is all science, which is at enmity with Christianity at core anyway.

It’s not Trump’s behavior, because Biblical history includes stories of reprobates used by God for righteous purposes. So important are their core issues that as long as Republicans give them what they want, the President’s personal behavior is irrelevant, even if it matches that of the world’s oligarchs. Therefore, it’s not about the President’s pathological lying, self-centered governing, obstruction of justice, or any other political issue, as long as he maintains the rudder on the “right” course for these matters.

Here are the five issues that opposition cannot possibly overcome:

  1. Everything’s fine with them. Contrary to those with real evidence that Trump is turning the U.S. into a global laughing stock or destroying America as we know it, these Christians are just fine. Their lives are quite contented with the path of the right, for theirs is the Gospel of Self. Why should they want change when they look around the holiday table and smile at how things are just fine for them and their loved ones?
  2. Individualism. This is the Christian fundamentalist idea that everyone is responsible for themselves and their families. It’s a New Testament mandate to these Christians, a view that God has prospered them for taking care of their own. Therefore, the poor who are seeking hand outs from them are seen as vulgar thieves.
  3. Abortion — The litmus test for Supreme Court justices isn’t abortion; it’s their views on capitalism and business. That these candidates favor the pro-life perspective is a convenient justification for advancing the interests of business while leading “Christian” voters to the high moral hill which they are then directed to keep at all costs. Pro-life’s opposition is funneled into a “pro-death” pigeon hole that accompanies statements that the pro-choice perspective is actually pro-abortion. It’s amazing to me that such people — normally highly intelligent and successful people — can buy into this without question. “We finally have a President who’s on OUR side.”
  4. Religious Freedom — This is in reality a ruse to combat any aspect of gender fluidity, the core of which is homophobia. It’s not that these Christians have anything particular against those who practice such (as opposed to being born with it), but they don’t want their families being exposed to what they view as sin. Hence, they want the “freedom” to be intolerant towards those whose alternative lifestyles might draw their children or grandchildren away.
  5. Absolute allegiance to Israel, regardless of its behavior. There are simply no questions to be asked here, much less answered, because to these Christians, God was behind the re-creation of Israel in 1948, because He’s getting ready to usher in the return of Jesus Christ. Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the Israeli capitol, his determination that the illegal settlements are actually legal, the abandonment of Syria, and the rejection of Obama’s Iranian deal all work to support the end times theology of the white evangelicals.

Nothing else matters, for the end justifies any means necessary, and Trump appears to be delivering to this particular flock. These are all talking points that the faithful have heard from their leaders for decades during the rise of the Christian Right. Hence, their determination that Trump was sent by God to restore the land that He gave to their Christian ancestors. Each of these issues is used to demonize opposition, because opposition is tagged as unrighteous and therefore, their points are freely dismissible as an argument. This leaves believers out on a dangerous limb of their own making, and they’re not about to ask for a ladder.

However, playing the tape out leads to a place where we must ask what comes next? It’s here where those who protest this establishment of religion must be wise, for there most certainly will be a “next” if this continues. These folks will reason that God has blessed their efforts, so the message will be to press on. They will demand Christian prayer in public schools. Moreover, everything they consider cultural sin will be challenged: tobacco, alcohol, drugs (including marijuana), and especially sex and everything that makes up the industry of adult entertainment.

It may lead to nothing, if they’re defeated in November. More than likely, however, they won’t view it as a loss and will simply continue to press these issues over and over again. Sorry, folks, but this is not a political fight. It’s the same old horrific religious bias we’ve been trying to set aside for centuries. This battle rightly belongs with the church, for the real struggle is for the narrative that best represents what it means to be Christian.

Right-wing fanatics have seized the brand for now, but if history is any guide, it thankfully won’t last. We would be tragic fools, however, to not let our voices count today.

The Bible made me do it

The Cape Henry Landing by English artist Stephen Reid

One of the great political mysteries of the 21st Century is how and why certain members of the have-nots will support the haves regardless of the evidence that they and their families would be better off in opposition. Opposing the greed of the rich seems a no-brainer. The two groups have virtually nothing in common, so either the haves have done a sensational job of manipulating the working poor, or there is something taking place that observers seem unable to observe.

Firstly, there’s the belief among this group of mostly Christian have-nots that their hope is in God, but Biblical reasoning posits a political system that believes the poor should pick themselves up by their bootstraps and get over it. This is accompanied by the idea that if you give a poor man a fish, you’ve fed him for a day, but if you teach a man to fish, you’ll feed him for a lifetime. The fallacy of this concept, of course, is in its practical execution, for it assumes an unlimited supply of fish and resources required to make this a reality. Ours is a world of limited resources, and when I take extra fish for myself and my family, I’m acting out of greed, not love for my fellow humans.

Secondly, this is supported by the writings of Paul to the communities of the burgeoning local church in the First Century, including especially one verse from his first letter to Timothy. Chapter 5, verse 8:

“Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” (NIV)

A good preacher can heap coals of fire on the heads of parishioners by taking this out of context and presenting it as a stand-alone command of God. It seems a logical idea until the words of Jesus are applied, “The poor will always be with you.” One must assume, then, that Biblical followers are doing a lousy job of teaching people to fish. Harping on the poor to take care of their own is hypocrisy gone-to-seed, no matter how justifiable it may seem.

Therefore, in a world of limited resources, hoarding such for one’s own gain is reprehensible in the big cultural picture. Despite this, these Christians cling to conservatism, mostly because it fits this particular Bible verse. Mix in a little abortion, gender, sex, and religious freedom, and it doesn’t matter if their party exists solely to support the wealthy.

This verse, however, is part of a bigger matter that Paul was discussing with Timothy, who raised the issue of care for widows in the church. Apparently (we don’t know, because we don’t have Timothy’s original letter to Paul), the church was having difficulty separating widows who were deserving of care from those who weren’t. Think of it as a matter of welfare for the poor, and here we have the contemporary division between liberal and conservative thinking expressed 2,000 years ago. If we take the time to actually read and study this, we come to a place where Paul actually separates church governance from the basic tenets of Christianity. He judges some widows as undeserving and presents others as “the real widows.” In verse 16, he writes what could be a plank for the GOP:

“If any woman who is a believer has widows in her care, she should continue to help them and not let the church be burdened with them, so that the church can help those widows who are really in need.”

The remarkable admission that the church is fiscally burdened by this puts the statement into the uncomfortable category of the practical versus the faith, for God is certainly not burdened by some widows seeking care. I don’t know enough to make the claim that this is idolatry, but as long as this portion of Paul’s letter is used to justify disrespect for the poor today, it flies in the face of the actual red words in the New Testament. Such followers need to be called on it.

What’s even worse is that these believers use this statement in their response to governmental aid for the poor today. Paul’s writings are addressed to the church, not the government. Moreover, when this fundamental belief is mixed with abortion, genderism, transphobia, homosexuality, and religious freedom, it’s easy to miss that the wealthy really only want for themselves.

Two other thoughts. One, if people really thought about Donald Trump’s election phrase — “Make America Great Again” — they’d realize that the good things of the melting pot days included strong labor unions and their core support for working men and women. Two, this leads inevitably to the conclusion that license on behalf of the business community is not what ever made America great. This worship of the businessman or woman is the core of Trumpism and a blight on those who labor on their behalf. Brett Kavanaugh wasn’t appointed to the Supreme Court, because he was pro-life; he was given the job because he passed the right wing litmus test of being 100% pro-business, a.k.a. the wealthy.

Finally, the press today is going to have to find a way to feel comfortable and confident arguing religion during the 2020 campaign. I support the Christian Democrats of America, because theirs is an ignored voice in the public square, and that cannot continue.

May you be so moved, too.

On Being Human

Courtesy, the brilliant Nick Galifanakis.

Long ago, I made peace with the idea that ALL humans really want and need the same thing: to do the best we can with what we know. It’s the same in the physical, in the psychological, and in the spiritual. There’s nothing whatsoever “wrong” with this; it’s a healthy part of human nature.

And, in terms of judging the behavior of others, this is a wise position to take, because it strikes at the heart of what motivates people. We want to help ourselves, our families, our communities, and beyond. That only some are able to do this well is the thing that’s really wrong with our world under the sun. Sadly, these few are the ones with the dragons capable of raining down terror on the rest of us. Dracarys!

Those who associate with a God of their understanding — as a part of their teaching, training, and faith — fully grasp the significance of helping the poor and the afflicted among us. Chaos ensues, however, when even a few of these get the idea that helping others means personal loss to themselves, or even more deceptively, that the poor are somehow “out to take what’s ours.” This stance puts us at odds with God, no matter which religion we pick. It ought to concern those who do so, but it doesn’t.

For, no matter how we play it, those who are stuck in the rut of competing for what they believe to be “theirs” are at odds with others who are more giving. As a friend recently said, “It’s not a piece of pie.” Helping others is a natural behavior for humans, one that runs into conflict only when we put our spiritual selves on hold while we pursue getting what we can to better our physical lives. This produces the takers in a world of givers, and they are an abomination before God.

Luke 6:24 “But woe to you, rich ones, for you have your comfort!”

It’s a lot easier on all of us to view the realities of life through the veil of wanting to do the best we can for ourselves and our families. This knowledge (or is it a belief?) has a way of injecting compassion into those who are aware. Everybody seems to agree with the principle but not with how to bring it about throughout the planet. Resources to accomplish the task appear to the uninitiated as a zero-sum game and one that requires that I take from somebody else in order to satisfy my own wants and needs. Once I’ve accumulated “mine,” I might be able to turn my attention to somebody else. Wash, rinse, repeat.

The fear that somebody else “might” take away my piece of pie is a powerful motivator to maintain the status quo, no matter who gets stomped on in the process. This, again, is human nature gone to seed, revealing the hidden motives of selfishness and self-centeredness. And, if this is to be our stance, we are sad and to be pitied.

Those who know God, however, understand that His approach is for us to give of ourselves first in order to be filled fully via the spirit with what’s best for us afterwards (See: The parable of the garden hose). This is foolishness to the world under the sun, but those of us who also fully inhabit the spiritual see the wisdom of such an approach. God is fully committed to the poor, and that includes Jesus. You can’t go very far in reading the Bible until you encounter this truth.

And, this is why the Republican approach to religion is so off-putting to me. To them, social justice is a major weakness in governance, and why Trump puppet master Steve Bannon said in 2017:

“The longer they talk about identity politics, I got ’em. I want them to talk about racism every day. If the left is focused on race and identity and we go with economic nationalism, we can crush the democrats.”

This is a crude albeit correct description of Republican Party Politics, because it seeks to benefit the status quo and by extension, the wealthy and the haves. The sole strategic thrust of the Democrats ought to be how their opponents only speak for the wealthy and the filthy rich, and the bones they toss to white evangelicals — like abortion and religious freedom — are only offered to ensure a larger support base. Republicans, quite honestly, could give a crap about fetuses being aborted. The litmus test for conservative judges is not abortion; it’s how business-friendly they are. The price conservatives demand is support for the wealthy, and since a lot of these preachers consider themselves in that category, the match is perfect. Moreover, the wealthy give money to big churches and ministries (it’s called a tax write-off).

And, no preacher worth his salt wants to turn that down, right?

This business of being human can give us all fits, not just the poor and the afflicted, so how are we supposed to judge others? the Bible says we should “Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.”

They’ve taken the human idea of doing the best for ourselves, our families, and our communities and turned it into selfishness.

And, it’s not pretty.